JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s new cases of COVID-19 have nearly doubled in just one day. The numbers released Wednesday signal a dramatic surge in the country where scientists detected the omicron variant last week. New confirmed cases rose to 8,561 Wednesday from 4,373 a day earlier. Scientists in South Africa said they are bracing for a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases following the discovery of the new omicron variant. Dr. Nicksy Gumede-Moeletsi, regional virologist for the World Health Organization, said there is a possibility that South Africa is going to see a vast increase in the number of new cases. The omicron variant has been detected in five of South Africa’s nine provinces and accounted for 74% of the virus genomes sequenced in November.